Spring Flowers

This long winter is over. With sunny weather and warm breeze, flowers are on my mind. I went back through my photos of spring and early summer travels and spring flowers images bring back memories of gardens and parks we visited, vibrant colors and unforgettable fragrances.

In Tokyo, tucked among skyscrapers, in the heart of the city, Imperial palace wild wetland irises bloom in all shades of purple and white.
In Kyoto, Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavillion), between elegant stone structures and white sand cones, bright flowering bushes add bursts of color.
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Real Jardin Botanico of Madrid has another amazing collection of irises, this time gorgeous huge velvet ones. There are also my favorite peonies.
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In Amsterdam, the flower market of all markets, Bloemenmarkt is definitely one of most fragrant places in the world, especially in spring. There are tons of bulbs, millions of tulips and roses, amazing bouquets and arrangements and my other favorite one of a spring kind – lily of the valley.
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In Italy, Lake Como is azaleas and roses paradise. Gardens of Villa Carlotta and Villa Barbaniello are breathtaking, with magnificent vistas of the lake and mountains. And in Varenna, views of the boats on the lake are incomplete without beautifully planted pansies.
IMG_3276 IMG_3300 IMG_3359IMG_3526High in Blue Mountains of Australia, mountain devil flower appears first as a cute tiny horned devil and then emerges as bright red spiky creature.

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In La Jolla, California, spring is enchanting with blossoms and colorful wildflowers near the ocean.
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Cold Spring, Hudson Valley, prefect american little town is beautifully decorated by loving residents.

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Tropical paradise in Costa Rica’s Arenal and it’s magnificent blooming trees in Guanacaste in April are dreamy.

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Searching for perfect macaron

I love macarons, I truly believe this is the best desert. It is light and crisp, it has adventurous flavors and romantic colors. It can be chocolate or fruity or vanilla or coffee or …any combination to satisfy many cravings. It is delicate and pretty and it is Parisian. I recently visited Maison Laduree in New York and admired perfect tea room design and fell in love with their orange blossom, rose and cassis macarons. And harmonie one. Really, can macaron named Harmonie even be bad?
In searching for perfect macaron I found cool blog on how to make macarons at home. I will try to make my version of heavenly desert sometime soon, for for now my favorite local places to buy them at home : Cocoa Fig in Minneapolis and Patisserie Margot in Excelsior  city. My favorite at that patisserie is salted caramel. And for next trip to France, this is a link to keep for best pastry shops. IMG_3234 perfect-macaron-21
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pictures from cocoa-fig, pinterest

Chandelier

Inspired by travel to magnificent french chateaus but also chic simplicity of modern french homes. It is all in details. No wallpaper or pictures on the walls and monochrome colors allow highlighting elegant baroque details. Clean lines of furniture is a perfect setting for Louis XV chair or a crystal chandelier.  Using elegant subtle shade natural materials like embroiled linen or crisp white cotton. Uncomplicated curtains. Fresh flowers. Sparkling crystal chandelier. When looking for decorating ideas, check this amazing french magazine www.campagnedecoration.com (Elle Mason) and this cool blog www.dreamhomedecorating.com.

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Day in Loire Valley

Sunny morning wake up to a delicious and elegant breakfast at Chateau de l’Epinay.  It is a perfect serene bed and breakfast near Saint Georges-sur-Loire. Just a short drive away, there are wonderful colorful farmers markets in nearby towns (check local listings). Cheeses from local artisans are amazing, crepes made to order. Add a fresh baguette from boulangerie, just baked in the morning, and voila, you have everything for a lunch picnic. In the early afternoon, head to Chateau de Brissac, it is tallest in Loire Valley – impressive castle, beautifully shaded with century old trees. During inside tour you will see stunning decor, hidden magnificent opera house and large wine cellar with tasting room. There are many wonderful vineyards in the area. Biodynamic wines of Nicolas Joly winery, who calls himself “Gérant de la Société, Nature assistant and not a winemaker”, are delicious. Savennières (dry white wines) are specialty of the area and Joly’s Clos de la Coulée de Serrant is outstanding.  For more brilliantly gold wines like Le Close du Papillon, head to Chateau de Vaults. Walk through picturesque estate gardens in a middle of UNESCO heritage site, enjoy intimate tasting room presenting 3 expressions of savennieres. The beauty of the Loire Valley romantic countryside and the laid-back way of life will charm and relax you. http://www.savennieres-closel.com/-English-.html

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Life at the Château

It’s just like in one of Alexandre Dumas books. Imagine lavish royal parties, romance, intrigues and musketeers rushing to save their queen. This is Loire Valley, home to hundreds majestic chateaux and palaces… Château de Chenonceau with it’s unique river bridge charm and feminine touches of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici. The Magic mirror of Château of Azay-le-Rideau. Château de Villandry with it’s glorious breathtaking gardens. Château de Brissac with huge towers and fortifying bases and hidden beautiful opera house. There are so many chateau to visit and to stay at. Located just short drive from Loire’s magnificent chateaus is your home away from home,  Château de l’Epinay, that absolutely completes the “Dumas” experience. It is in the middle of lush valley, farmland and vineyards and it is quiet and romantic, it is perfect balance of elegance and comfort.  Charming, authentic decor that brings an ambiance of ages ago. Gracious beautiful hosts, the Montuoro family create atmosphere of  “tout est luxe, charme, et serenite”  – “everything is luxury, charm and serenity”.

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Sydney beach or my best coastal walk

In Sydney you don’t need to go far from the city to get away from the crowds and feel the nature, salty ocean water and sunny rays on your skin and sand between your toes. To hear waves crash against line of coves. To see amazing South Pacific Ocean hugging Sydney beaches, blue jewel of water and sky, white sparkle of sand and stones. We started beach morning with breakfast at Jenny’s Cafe – perfect little spot near Bronte beach. Their ricotta pancakes are delicious, so are fruit plates and flat white coffee.  Then we walked down to Bronte beach and with easy lockers available in dressing rooms we left our belongings and went for a swim.  Waves are strong and feel icy on skin – very refreshing and exhilarating feeling and because of hot sun it is actually not cold at all.  Then our coastal walk continued through Mackenzie Point and Tamarama beach with many incredible vantage points and photo opps along the way. At Bondi Beach we stopped at famous Bondi Iceberg Club for a drink and learned cool stories about what it takes to become Bondi Iceberg swimmer. Incredible day!    More info athttp://www.australia.com/en/places/nsw/nsw-bondi-bronte.html

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Inspiring bedrooms and Parachute bedding

Clean and simple Inspiring Scandinavian bedroom ideas. Just proves that White can be far from boring. For simple white I gave Parachute bedding a try. I read about it in Wall Street journal and so glad I ordered. It is amazingly soft. It has thoughtful details like enclosed envelop pillow cases that have that simple non messy look, it arrives with hand-written note that “cares about your sleep”. It is made in Italy. It is high quality at great affordability.  Try parachute bedding at www.parachutehome.com

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Lily of the Valley

I saw this amazing delicate lilly of the valley dress by russian designer Cyrille Gassiline in issue of Russian Vogue.  Inspiration comes from Dior’s Muget dress. And I remember one of my mom favorite perfumes, Diorissimo, fragrance of childhood.  Also my trip to Amsterdam Bloemenmarkt, flowers market is on my mind right now. Not long before spring is back here!

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Ode a la Rose

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Inspired by beautiful chateaux rose gardens in France….During cold old winter nothing is better than smell of fresh roses. Candle – ritual Kyoto by Cinq Mondes, lip treatment by Dior, body wash by Dr. Hauschka, face tonic by Evenhealy.  At www.dermstore.com

17 Mile drive and more

When in Carmel Valley:  Escape to tranquility at Quail Lodge.  Visit Bernardus lodge Marinus restaurant for true essence of valley’s organic produce (with their locally grown wine and roses). Watch sheep graze in the meadow and have famous artichokes on a patio with a view of Point Lobos and Pacific ocean at Clint Eastwood’s Mission’s ranch. Run through  lavender and chamomile labyrinths of Organic Earthbound farm.  Imagine you are in a fairytale for a day at Carmel-by-the-Sea. Drive the Magnificent 17 Miles. Try terrific wines at one of the valley’s wineries as Chateau Julien.

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